Treaty of Wuchale: The Treaty which led to European Colonialism’s Defeat in Africa

Battle_of_adwa2
Edition of the Petit Journal of August 1896 titled: “Negus Menelik II at the Battle of Adwa”

In Africa, Ethiopia is the only country which was never colonized by a European power. This was the result of the famous Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896, which marked the Ethiopian victory against Italian colonialism. The Battle of Adwa against Italy arose from the deceitful 1889 Treaty of Wuchale between the Ethiopian Empire and Italy, a treaty whose article 17 had two different meanings in Amharic and Italian versions: The Amharic version recognized the sovereignty of Ethiopia and its relationship with Italy as just a diplomatic partnership, while the Italian version made Ethiopia Italy’s protectorate The moment that discrepancy/trickery was uncovered, Empress Taytu Betul was the first to agitate Emperor Menelik II and other men to stand up for liberty, and dignity against Italian aggression. I am publishing here the Treaty of Wuchale. Special thanks to the Horn Affairs website for publishing the English version in its entirety. Some claim that Article 3 actually paved the way for Italians to claim Ethiopian lands (Eritrea). Well, here is the document of one of those treacherous treaties signed or rather forced upon Africans by European powers. Thank goodness for Taytu Betul, Menelik II, and their team of loyal and intelligent ministers and interpreters. I have attached the pdf version too.

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Treaty of friendship and trade between the kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Ethiopia (Treaty of Wuchale)

ethiopia
Map of Ethiopia before 1911

His Majesty King Umberto I of Italy and Menelik His Majesty The King of Kings of Ethiopia, in order to make meaningful and lasting peace between the two Kingdoms of Italy and Ethiopia have agreed to conclude a treaty of friendship and commerce .

And His Majesty the King of Italy having delegated as his representative, Count Pietro Antonelli, Commander of the Crown of Italy, Knight SS. Maurice and Lazarus, his extraordinary posted by His Majesty the King Menelik, whose full powers were found in good and due form, and His Majesty the King Menelik concluded in his name as King of Kings of Ethiopia, agreed and concludes the following Articles:

Article 1. There will be perpetual peace and friendship between His Majesty the King of Italy and His Majesty the King of Kings of Ethiopia and between their respective heirs, successors, servants and protected populations.

Article 2. Each Contracting Party shall be represented by a diplomatic agent accredited to I’altra and may appoint consuls, agents and consular officers in the other.
Such officials shall enjoy all the privileges and immunities according to the customs of the European governments.

Map of Eritrea
Map of Eritrea

Article 3. To remove any ambiguity about the limits of the territories over which the two Contracting Parties shall exercise sovereign rights, a special commission composed of two delegates and two Ethiopians will draw on Italian soil with special signals a permanent boundary line whose strongholds are established as below:
a) the line of the plateau will mark the Ethiopian-Italian border;
b) from the region Arafali Hala, Sagan and Asmara are villages in the Italian border;
c) Adi and Adi Nefas Joannes Bogos will be on the side of the Italian border;
d) by Adi Joannes a straight line extended from east to west will mark the border between Italy and Ethiopia.

Article 4. The monastery of Debra Bizen with all their possessions will remain the property of the Ethiopian government but will never use it for military purposes.

Article 5. The caravans from or to Massawa to Ethiopian territory pay on one single law of the customs entry of 8 per cent on the value of the goods.

Menelik_II_ethiopia
Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia

Article 6. The trade of arms and ammunition from or through Massawa to Ethiopia will be free for the only King of Kings of Ethiopia.
Whenever they want to get the passage of such kinds will make regular application to the Italian authorities, bearing the royal seal.
The wagons with load of weapons and ammunition will travel under the protection and cover of Italian soldiers until alconfine Ethiopia.

Article 7. The subjects of each of the two Contracting Parties will be free to enter, travel, go out with their merchandise and effects in the other country and will enjoy greater protection of the Government and its employees.
And, therefore, strictly forbidden to people on both sides armed contractors to meet many or few and pass their borders in order to impose itself on people and groped by force to provide food and livestock.

Article 8. The Italians in Ethiopia and Ethiopians in Italy or Italian possessions can buy or sell, take or lease and in any other manner dispose of their property no less than the natives.

Article 9. And fully guaranteed in both states the option for other subjects to practice their religion.

Article 10. Any disputes or quarrels between the Italians in Ethiopia will be defined by the Italian in Massawa or his delegate.
The fights between Italians and Ethiopians will be defined by the Italian in Massawa or his delegate and a delegate of the Ethiopian.

Taytu_Betul5
Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia

Article 11. Dying in an Italian in Ethiopia or an Ethiopian in Italian territory, the local authorities were carefully kept all his property and held at the disposal of government to which the deceased belonged.

Article 12. In any event, circumstance or for any Italians accused of a crime will be judged by the Italian.
That is why the Ethiopian authorities shall immediately deliver to the  Italians in Massawa accused of having committed a crime.
They also accused the Ethiopians of crime committed on Italian soil will be judged by the Ethiopian.

Article 13. His Majesty the King of Italy and His Majesty the King of Kings of Ethiopia is obliged to deliver criminals who may have become refugees, to escape punishment by the rulers of one on the other domains.

Article 14. The slave trade was against the principles of the Christian religion, His Majesty the King of Kings of Ethiopia is committed to prevent it with all his power, so that no caravan of slaves can cross its member.

Article 15. This Treaty shall be valid throughout the Ethiopian Empire.

Article 16. While in the present Treaty, after five years from the date of signature, one of two High Contracting Parties may wish to introduce some modifications to do so, but he must prevent the other a year earlier, while remaining firm and every single concession on territory.

Battle_of_adwa6
The Battle of Adwa, 1896

Article 17. His Majesty the King of Kings of Ethiopia can [1] use the Government of His Majesty the King of Italy for all treatments that did business with other powers or governments.

Article 18. If His Majesty the King of Kings of Ethiopia intends to grant special privileges to nationals of third state to establish businesses and industries in Ethiopia, will always be given, under equal conditions, preference to the Italians.

Article 19. This treaty being drafted in Italian and Amharic and the two versions agree with each other perfectly, both texts shall be deemed official, and will in every respect equal faith.

Article 20. This Treaty shall be ratified.

In witness whereof, Count Pietro Antonelli on behalf of His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the King of King Menelik of Ethiopia, in his own name, signed and affixed their seal to this Treaty, at the camp Uccialli of 25 miazia 1881 corresponding to May 2, 1889.

Imperial Seal of Ethiopia
For His Majesty the King of Italy Pietro Antonelli

Ratification of MS, Monza, September 29, 1889

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[1] Article 17 has an obligatory sense in the Italian language version of the Treaty.

Taytu Betul: the Great Ethiopian Empress who Said ‘NO’ to Colonization

Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia
Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia

After learning about the origin of the name Addis Ababa, from Empress Taytu Betul‘s visit to its location, I could not help but talk about the Empress herself.  Who was Taytu Betul?

Well, Taytu Betul was Emperor Menelik II‘s third wife and was thereby Empress of Ethiopia.  She was his confidante, a loyal wife, a commander, and a brilliant military strategist.

Taytu Betul (also Taitu Betul), whose name Taytu means Sunshine, was a sunshine for her nation when it was about to fall into the hands of the Italian colonizer.  Perhaps, there would not have been the famous Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896, which marked the Ethiopian victory against colonialism, without Empress Taytu, for she inspired it.

Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia
Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia

Empress Taytu Betul was born in Wollo from a Christian and Muslim family.  She had a comprehensive education and was fluent in Ge’ez, the classical Ethiopian language; which was a rare achievement for a woman at the time, as education was mostly reserved for boys.  Taytu was the third of four children in an aristocratic family related to the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia.  Her uncle, Dejazmach Wube Haile Maryam, was the ruler of Tigray and much of Northern Ethiopia in the 1840s, and a rival of Emperor Tewodros II.  Her father’s family were the ruling family of Semien province, claiming descent from Emperor Susenyos I.  Her grandfather was Ras Gugsa, a member of the powerful ruling family of Yejju, of Oromo origin, which had ruled as Regents in Gondar during the Zemene Mesafint (“Era of the Princes”).  After four failed marriages, Taytu Betul was married to Emperor Menelik II (he was still King of Shewa at the time) in 1883 in a full communion church service and thus fully canonical and insoluble, which Menelik had not had with either of his previous wives (whom he had divorced).  Their marriage was not just about romance but was also a political marriage sealing alliances with the northern regions of Begemder, Lasta, Semien, and Yeju.  She remained his wife until his death in 1913.

The Battle of Adwa, 1896
The Battle of Adwa, 1896

Empress Taytu was a loyal and respectful wife to her husband Emperor Menelik II.  According to royal historians, she was co-equal with Menelik, who always consulted her prior to making important decisions.  She was the one who pushed him to declare war against Italy at the Battle of Adwa—tearing up the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale between the Ethiopian Empire and Italy, a treaty whose article 17 had two different meanings in Amharic and Italian versions: The Amharic version recognized the sovereignty of Ethiopia and its relationship with Italy as just a diplomatic partnership, while the Italian version made Ethiopia Italy’s protectorate.  The moment that discrepancy was uncovered, Empress Taytu was the first to agitate the hesitant Emperor and other men to stand up for liberty, dignity and against Italian aggression. 

Edition of the Petit Journal of August 1896 titled: "Negus Menelik II at the Battle of Adwa"
Edition of the Petit Journal of August 1896 titled: “Negus Menelik II at the Battle of Adwa”

Empress Taytu, as a military strategist, facilitated the downfall of Italy at the Battle of AdwaShe had her own battalion, which she bravely commanded in the battlefield, fighting in the frontline and motivating men against retreat.  She also mobilized women, both as fighters and nurses of wounded soldiers.   At the Battle of Mekelle, she advised Ras Mekonen to cut off the water supply to the Italians in order to disgorge them from their entrenched and heavily fortified positions at Endeyesus Hill on the eastern part of Mekelle City.  Taytu was also the receiver and analyzer of intelligence information collected by spies, which historians have characterized as of crucial importance to the Ethiopian victory at the battleThis information enabled Menelik to attack the Italians, at a site of his choosing, at Adwa instead of Adigrat, near the Eritrean border where the Italians expected to have a relative logistical advantage.  The Italians were hoping that Menelik would meet them in Adigrat, close to where they had a well-protected military base.

Empress Taytu Betul in Le Petit Journal of March 1896
Empress Taytu Betul in Le Petit Journal of March 1896

Independence and cooperation defined Taytu’s relationship with Emperor Menelik II.  Their marriage was that of equals characterized by trust, respect and reciprocity.  After Menelik was incapacitated due to strokes in 1906, she essentially governed the country, angering all the rivals to the throne.  She was ousted from power in 1910.  After Menelik II’s death in 1913, she was banished to the old palace at Entoto.

Taytu Betul was an authentic Ethiopian leader.  Her deeds at a critical moment in Ethiopian history not only saved Ethiopia from European colonization, but it also paved the way for the decolonization of Africa.  Her advice and action resulted in the defeat of the Italian army at the 1896 Battle of Adwa, a mighty European army defeat at the hands of Africans.  Taytu strongly defended national interests by overcoming challenges both from within and from without.  Just as there was no Menelik II without Taytu Betul, there would have been no Ethiopia without Taytu’s great strength, courage, devotion, and determination. Taytu Betul was truly Ethiopia’s sunshine, and should forever be remembered as one of the greatest empresses of Ethiopia and of Africa as a whole.  Please check out Tadias.com which has outstanding information on this great empress.  Enjoy this video about the Battle of Adwa.

 

 

Why the Name: Addis Ababa?

Map of Ethiopia
Map of Ethiopia

I have often wondered about the meaning of the name Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia.  The name always sounded so poetic, and full of beauty somehow.

You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the name of the largest city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa or Addis Abeba, actually meant “New Flower.”  No wonder the sound of it was always so pretty.

The region where Addis Ababa is founded is called Finfinne, or Natural Springs, by the local Oromo population; it is an area rich with fauna and flora.  In the southwest, can be found Mount Wachacha, and in the north Mount Entoto.  Before the foundation of Addis Ababa, Emperor Menelik II and the empress Taytu Betul were installed in the area of Mount Entoto as it was used a military base for operations in the south of the realm; however that area had a rude climate, was cold, and very windy.  So the imperial couple used to visit the thermal sources of Filwoha, hot mineral springs, located at a lower altitude.

Empress Taytu Betul
Empress Taytu Betul

In 1886, while Empress Taytu Betul was admiring the landscape, she saw a flower of rare beauty.  Enchanted by the nice climate, she asked her spouse, Emperor Menelik II, to build her a house in the area.  Menelik II agreed and promised Taytu to build her a residence there.  The choice of the precise location of Addis Ababa followed the prophecy of Menelik II’s grandfather, Sahle Selassie, Negus of Shewa from 1813 to 1847.  During a game of chess, Sahle Selassie declared: “This country is covered with scrub and vegetation, but the day will come when my grandson will build a house here, and will found a city.”  Menelik II founded the city at the exact location where his grandfather was practicing fencing.  The name was Empress Taytu’s choice: she had been stunned by that beautiful flower she had never seen before, hence she named the city Addis Ababa, or “New Flower” in Amharic.

Emperor Menelik II
Emperor Menelik II

Menelik expanded his wife’s house to become the Imperial Palace which remains the seat of government in Addis Ababa today.  Addis Ababa became Ethiopia’s capital when Menelik II became Emperor of Ethiopia.  The town grew by leaps and bounds.  One of Emperor Menelik II’s contributions still visible today is the planting of numerous eucalyptus trees along the city’s streets.  The city lies at an altitude of 2300 meters, and is a grassland biome.

Following all the major engagements of their invasion, Italian troops from the colony of Eritrea entered Addis Ababa on 5 May 1936.  Along with Dire Dawa, the city had been spared the aerial bombardment (including the use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas) practiced elsewhere and its railway to Djibouti remained intact.  The city served as the Duke of Aosta‘s capital for the unified colony of Italian East Africa until 1941, when it was abandoned in favor of Amba Alagi and other redoubts during the Second World War‘s East African Campaign.  The city was liberated by Major Orde Wingate‘s Sudanese and Ethiopian Gideon Force in time to permit Emperor Haile Selassie‘s return on 5 May 1941, five years to the day after he had left.

Emperor Haile Selassie
Emperor Haile Selassie

Following reconstruction, Haile Selassie helped form the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 and invited the new organization to keep its headquarters in the city.  The OAU was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union (AU), also headquartered in Addis Ababa.  The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.  It is home to Addis Ababa University.  The Federation of African Societies of Chemistry (FASC) and Horn of Africa Press Institute (HAPI) are also headquartered in Addis Ababa.  Ethiopia has often been called the original cradle of humanity due to various humanoid fossil discoveries like the Australopithecine Lucy.  Recent DNA evidence have suggested origins in south central Ethiopian regions like present-day Addis Ababa: after analyzing the DNA of almost 1,000 people around the world, geneticists and other scientists claimed people spread from what is now Addis Ababa 100,000 years ago.  Enjoy video about the new flower, and all its cultural wealth.

Fasilides Castle: a Pure Gem of Ethiopia’s Rich History

Map of Ethiopia
Map of Ethiopia

Throughout human history, every great empire has had great builders and phenomenal architectural fits: The Romans with Emperor Titus who built the Colosseum, the Inca builders of Machu Picchu, the Egyptian pharaohs with the great sphinx of Giza and the great pyramids, the first emperor of China and the Ming dynasty with the Great Wall of China.  However, few today know of the Abyssinian builder Fasilides and his work.

Ethiopian Emperor Fasilides is one of most remarkable rulers of Abyssinia, the ancient name of Ethiopia.  A member of the Solomonic dynasty, emperor Fasilides ruled over Abyssinia from 1632 to 1667.  He founded the city of Gondar in 1636 which became the capital of Abyssinia, in the northwestern part of Ethiopia.  He was known as Alam Sagad or ‘To whom the world bows.’  Today, thousands bow to his work, and his footprints have marked the history of Ethiopia forever.

Fasilides' Castle
Fasilides’ Castle

Among the buildings he constructed there are the beginnings of the complex later known as Fasil Ghebbi, as well as some of the earliest of Gondar’s famous 44 churches: Adababay Iyasus, Adababay Tekle Haymanot, Atatami Mikael, Gimjabet Maryam, Fit Mikael, and Fit Abbo.  Fasilides is also credited with building seven stone bridges in Ethiopia.  Sebara Dildiy (broken bridge in Amharic) was one of two stone bridges built over the Blue Nile River during Fasilides reign.  Sebara Dildiy was later repaired during Emperor Menelik II‘s reign in 1901.  Emperor Fasilides also built the Cathedral Church of St Mary of Zion at Axum.  Fasilides’ church is known today as the “Old Cathedral” and stands next to a newer cathedral built by Emperor Haile Selassie.

Fasilides' Bath
Fasilides’ Bath

When King Fasilides made Gondar the seat of his empire in 1636, he constructed a palace that would eventually sprawl into a large complex, as succeessors added their own buildings to the compound.  Set in the heart of what is now one of Ethiopia’s largest cities, the palace complex is a mixture of beautifully-preserved period architecture with European and Moorish influences, and rambling ruins.  Interestingly, Fasilides’ Castle itself is the best-preserved, with its lower halls, reservoirs and steam-baths, remains of kitchens and stables, and even enclosures for leopards and lions that used to grace the grounds.  The castle is located near the city center.  Its structure is purely made of stone.  Today, Fasilides baths are used for baptism during the Timkat festival, the epiphany, in late January; they are only filled with water for the festival.  The castle can be found in Gondar, Amhara regionFasilides’ Castle is definitely a representation of Ethiopia’s great and rich history.